Donald Trump Claims Nomination Of A Party That Remains Divided

Donald Trump completed his unlikely journey to the Republican Presidential Nomination last night, but he the party he now leads remains divided.

One year and one month after entering the race for President, Donald Trump claimed the nomination of the Republican Party last night, but the divisions and fractures that his candidacy have created over the past thirteen months remain readily apparent:

CLEVELAND — Donald J. Trump was formally crowned the Republican nominee for president at the party’s convention on Tuesday, ending a tumultuous primary season but not the nagging questions about his polarizing candidacy as he once again found himself embroiled in controversy.

With his campaign appearing in disarray after his wife, Melania, delivered a convention speech cribbed in part from one once given by Michelle Obama, Mr. Trump officially claimed the nomination. But the gap between Mr. Trump and the party he now aims to lead yawned as wide as ever across the convention.

At times, the only unifying appeals — the only themes truly capable of rallying the Republican Party, even briefly — were ominous denunciations of Hillary Clinton. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a Trump ally stung by his rejection in the hunt to be Mr. Trump’s running mate, rebounded with a call to arms against Mrs. Clinton.

Casting himself as her prosecutor in a mock trial, Mr. Christie roused the crowd to spontaneous chants of “Lock her up!”

ut such moments of unity passed quickly in an evening that showcased the Republican Party’s crippling divisions from the start. In the roll call vote that began the night, formally marking Mr. Trump’s capture of the Republican nomination, 721 delegates cast their votes for candidates other than Mr. Trump — the most significant expression of party dissent since 1976, when Republicans had a contested convention.

And if more traditional Republicans in the audience showed limited enthusiasm for Mr. Trump, the misgivings were mutual: Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, drew scattered boos from the crowd in multiple appearances on stage. Mr. McConnell, who has both endorsed Mr. Trump and criticized his campaign, offered a restrained embrace on Tuesday, stressing in his remarks that Mr. Trump would sign laws passed by the Republican-held Senate.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, who was reluctant to endorse Mr. Trump, was more direct in his remarks over the party’s rift — what he called “our arguments this year.” But, Mr. Ryan said, “democracy is a series of choices.”

The mood of the event careened uneasily back and forth, from exultant celebrations cheered on by the Trump family to sober discourses on conservative policy guided by Republican congressional leaders to attacks on Mrs. Clinton.

While Mr. Ryan, representing the G.O.P.’s governing wing, laid out a vision for “a reformed tax code that rewards free enterprise,” Ben Carson, the physician who briefly caught fire last year in his presidential campaign, used part of his address to claim that Mrs. Clinton is a student of Saul Alinsky, the 20th-century activist and community organizer.

The roll call itself was punctuated with signals of discontent. When Ohio cast 66 delegate votes for its governor, John Kasich, a chorus of intermingled cheers and boos rose from the crowd. Mr. Kasich, a Republican, has not endorsed Mr. Trump and has been a pointed critic of his political style.

At another juncture in the roll call, another Republican governor who has not backed Mr. Trump, Susana Martinez of New Mexico, appeared poised to reconcile with the Republican nominee.

But as she stepped forward to cast her state’s votes, Ms. Martinez passed on a chance to publicly back Mr. Trump. Instead she passed the microphone to a young member of the New Mexico delegation, who spoke in her stead to hail Mr. Trump.

Alphabetically, Mr. Trump’s home state was next up, but it delayed casting its votes so that it would be the one that put Mr. Trump over the 1,237-delegate threshold. His son Donald Jr. announced on the convention floor that New York’s delegates had delivered the votes he needed.

“It’s not a campaign anymore, it’s a movement,” said the younger Mr. Trump, surrounded by his three adult siblings. Reflecting his father’s brashness, he pledged to put New York, which has not voted Republican in a presidential election in 32 years, in play.

The hall echoed with the strains of “New York, New York.” Giant screens hanging over the arena glittered with an animation of gold fireworks and a three-word proclamation: “Over the Top.”

Amid the celebration, some delegates remained seated and other seats on the floor were entirely empty. In big sections of the mezzanine, row upon row of red-backed seats stood mostly vacant.

The passionless tone that prevailed for most of the evening made Mr. Christie’s chest-thumping speech all the more noteworthy. For the second consecutive night, long stretches of the program were desultory, and the convention floor emptied out well before the speeches ended.

I have not watched much of the convention coverage so far this year, so my exposure to what’s going on on the floor via C-Span and the cable networks — when the switch over from the parade of the talking heads to actually cover the convention itself, that is — has been limited at best. Nonetheless, what I have seen has shown a party that clearly seems to be less enthusiastic about its chances in the General Election than it has at any time in recent memory. Even in 2008, when public support for the Republican Party was at the lowest point it had seen since Watergate and President Nixon’s resignation, those present at the convention in Minneapolis managed to put on an enthusiastic face notwithstanding the fact that the odds were against them. Four years ago, the prospect of limiting Barack Obama to a single term brought a lot of energy to Tampa, even for an arguably bland candidate known more for managerial competence than inspiring rhetoric like Mitt Romney. Given that, one would have expected that the Republican Party of 2016 would be even more eager to win in November, especially given the fact that the White House has been out of Republican hands for eight years and the GOP is faced with the prospect of that continuing for another four to eight years. Instead, what one sees unfolding is largely a party that is going through the motions, nominating Trump because they really don’t have any other choice at this point but doing so with the fear that they’re just leading the party to another loss in November that could not only keep the White House out of hands for the longest stretch since the twenty-year stretch between Franklin D. Roosevelt’s election in 1932 and Dwight Eisenhower’s victory in 1952. Additionally, the fact of the #NeverTrump movement, and the Republicans at all levels who have pledged that they will not support Trump in November regardless of what that means for the party’s prospects seems to be hanging over the proceedings and seems to be threatening party unity going forward for 2016 and beyond.

It shouldn’t be all that surprising that the convention isn’t entirely enthusiastic about nominating Trump, of course. Notwithstanding the fact that he ended up winning a majority of delegates, Trump has unfavorable ratings that make one wonder just how it is that he managed to make it as far as he has so far. Even among self-identified Republicans who say they are going to vote for him, Trump’s unfavorable ratings are among the highest we’ve ever seen for major party nominee in the modern era. Given that, it’s hardly surprising that even die-hard Republicans aren’t exactly thrilled about the prospect of watching him lead the party over the next four months. Additionally, while Trump is closer to Clinton in the polls than many people likely anticipated, the fact remains that he continues to trail her both nationally and in key battleground states. The likelihood is that this Clinton lead will have grown by the time the dust settles after the back-to-back conventions. Combined with the reality of an Electoral College map where Democrats have a clear advantage, and the fact that Trump is running a campaign based on ideas that many Republicans are clearly uncomfortable with, the fact that Republicans may seem less than enthusiastic about is hardly surprising. Added into all of this, of course, are all the Republicans who are sitting the convention out, and that includes not only prominent party leaders like the Bush family and many of the leading Governors in the Republican field, some of whom are up for re-election in the fall, but also ordinary party members and activists turned off by Trump’s message and by the supporters he has brought along with him.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, Democracy, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Mark Ivey says:

    And now i wait for the upcoming bankruptcy(and liquidation) of the American Republican political party.

  2. Pch101 says:

    Paul Ryan implied that it was a lesser-of-two-evils election. So there’s your call for unity: the 11th commandment (Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican) is back.

    Mitch McConnell established the agenda: Scaliaemailghazicare. How very unique and exciting!

    Chris Christie literally attempted to have a trial-by-media. Aren’t those supposed to be a bad thing? Forgive me for laughing, but I can’t help myself: This is the GOP’s idea of a moderate.

    I know that Bruce Bartlett and others like him were hoping that Trump would prompt the GOP to open its eyes and reform itself, but that just isn’t going to happen. Trump isn’t just some aberration, he’s the loud obnoxious version of themselves who many of them always wanted to be. The others will just have to get used to it.

  3. Tony W says:

    The RNC is terrible at managing messaging.

    Here’s what I see in the news so far:

    Day 1 – The internet lights up about Melania and plagiarism
    Day 2 – Norovirus hits the convention, and Cleveland is rife with vomit and diarrhea. The jokes write themselves. Oh yeah, and Donald Trump gets the nomination

    Can’t wait to see how they handle the messaging for Days 3 and 4….

    Seriously, somebody should be fired.

  4. MarkedMan says:

    This convention is by the far the worst in the era of non-contested ones. Donald Trump promised a “Hollywood” convention, one that only someone with his background could put on. Movie Stars! Famous Sports Figures! Glitter and glitz! Suspense! But like all his undertakings, when it actually came time to deliver it was 2nd and 3rd rate stuff wrapped in a whole lot of talk. Chachi and the 464th (?) ranked womens golfer. Third rate politicians and his wife and kids. Sections of empty seats and the people that were there streaming out an hour before the end.

    Trump is such a phony. All talk, but can’t deliver.

  5. Tony W says:
  6. Jen says:

    @Tony W: I believe today is the filing deadline for one of the FEC reports, isn’t it? Depending on the actual fundraising numbers, that could step on today’s or tomorrow’s messaging.

  7. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Tony W: Maybe I was misinformed but the theme for yesterday (aside from the formal nomination) was to be JOBS.
    Seems like there was no discussion of the Trump JOBS plan(suggests there isn’t one) just incessant CDS.

  8. James Pearce says:

    Nonetheless, what I have seen has shown a party that clearly seems to be less enthusiastic about its chances in the General Election than it has at any time in recent memory.

    They are, however, obnoxiously enthusiastic about opposing Hillary.

    I have never been prouder of Colorado Republicans, though. They’re much more conservative than I am, but they’re not bowing down. I read that in retaliation for their #NeverTrump stand, the convention planners seated their delegation WAAAAY in the back, behind even all the territories.

    Trump will make Hillary voters out of them yet.

  9. Andrew says:

    If anyone remembers the movie Private Parts, the movie about Howard Stern, there is a part where they are explaining how the high ratings they are getting are mostly based on people listening in wondering what he is going to say next. It did not really matter what Howard was saying, but people were tuning in because : Entertainment.

    All this tabloid, reality television based crap, drama, stories coming out of the convention is just that : Entertainment.
    People are tuning in to see what will happen next. What Trump and Co. will do, say. Etc.

    I have said it once, more than once.

    There is no such thing as bad press.

    For months now people have been trying to rationalize how, why, what the heck is going on. How Trump and Company are still going so strong. It does not matter if it was good news or bad news. It was still press, regardless.

    And we just so happen to live in a country that thrives on bull$hit. Reality television, drama, Bull$hit. And Trump banked on it. And here his is on the national stage running for the most powerful figurehead position in the world.

    We really have no one to blame, but ourselves as a country.

    “Now, there’s one thing you might have noticed I don’t complain about: politicians. Everybody complains about politicians. Everybody says they suck. Well, where do people think these politicians come from? They don’t fall out of the sky. They don’t pass through a membrane from another reality. They come from American parents and American families, American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses and American universities, and they are elected by American citizens. This is the best we can do folks. This is what we have to offer. It’s what our system produces: Garbage in, garbage out. If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you’re going to get selfish, ignorant leaders. Term limits ain’t going to do any good; you’re just going to end up with a brand new bunch of selfish, ignorant Americans. So, maybe, maybe, maybe, it’s not the politicians who suck. Maybe something else sucks around here… like, the public. Yeah, the public sucks. There’s a nice campaign slogan for somebody: ‘The Public Sucks. F*ck Hope.” – George Carlin.

  10. michael reynolds says:

    Trump doesn’t need message discipline. His supporters don’t care even slightly about specifics. He hates blacks, Latinos, gays, Muslims and women. He’s been endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan and the remnants of the American Nazi Party. That’s all that matters to Trump’s supporters. Everything else is irrelevant.

  11. Tyrell says:

    Are these conventions really necessary now ?

  12. Pete S says:

    I was home sick one day this winter. I wound up watching “Pink Floyd – The Wall” on TV. My wife got home from work when the movie was nearing the end, when Bob Geldof is leading that crazy rally. My wife is no Pink Floyd fan and had no idea what was on, she asked in all seriousness if it was a Trump rally on the news.

    That is the feel I was starting to get last night again during the “Lock her up” chants. This is getting unreal.

  13. al-Alameda says:

    At times, the only unifying appeals — the only themes truly capable of rallying the Republican Party, even briefly — were ominous denunciations of Hillary Clinton. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a Trump ally stung by his rejection in the hunt to be Mr. Trump’s running mate, rebounded with a call to arms against Mrs. Clinton.

    Casting himself as her prosecutor in a mock trial, Mr. Christie roused the crowd to spontaneous chants of “Lock her up!”

    That, folks, is all they’ve got. Sadly, in today’s dumbed down America that is a lot.

  14. DrDaveT says:

    the divisions and fractures that his candidacy have created over the past thirteen months remain readily apparent

    Doug, you apparently still don’t get it. Trump’s candidacy did not create any of these divisions or fractures, any more than turning on the kitchen light creates roaches. It revealed them, shone a light on them, highlighted them in day-glo orange — but it did not create any of them.

  15. Electroman says:

    @Pete S: Orange is the new Pink.

  16. Mister Bluster says:

    From the Bridgemaster’s speech.

    We cannot make the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the United States someone who has risked America’s secrets and lied about this to Congress and the American people.

    Hey Chris!
    The United States Attorney General is our Chief Law Enforcement Officer. Not POTUS.

  17. gVOR08 says:

    @Mister Bluster: I trust you saw the Clinton Tweet in response.

    If you think Chris Christie can lecture anyone on ethics, we have a bridge to sell you.

    And on that note, how does anyone associated with the Trump campaign get to call anyone else a liar?

  18. Paul Hooson says:

    This convention has been just as disordered as the mind of Donald Trump. The nomination roll call should have been on Wednesday and the acceptance speech on Thursday, instead we’ve heard nothing but exaggerated attacks on Clinton, and zero on substance on what a Trump presidency would actually do if elected. Monday was supposed to be on safety and security, yet not one single policy proposal was volunteered. Tuesday was supposed to be about jobs, yet nothing was volunteered how to provide even a single job. By comparison, the Obama Administration did champion many economic programs that rescued the American automobile industry, regulated banks which was constructive to the economy, provided economic stimulus, brought 32 million uninsured American health care, expanded student loans and much more. If Donald Trump has even one policy proposal it would be very nice to let the American public hear it during the four days of convention coverage they have.

  19. Andrew says:

    @Paul Hooson:

    It would be.

    However, we are not dealing with substance. We are dealing Bravado. Empty, meaningless, hot air filled, bravado. When your target audience does not care what you really say, but how you say it. You can say you are going to ban NASCAR, but as long as it is said the right way. This crowd will be on board with it.

  20. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Paul Hooson: Adding to Andrew’s thought above, there was a saying that I heard while I was working in the produce business–you can’t sell off of a empty wagon. The GOP wagon is as empty as it’s ever been (and the same holds true for Conservatism overall, too).

  21. Donna L. says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:
    What of the Democratic party wagon? Do they even *have * one? I think not….unless it’s a paddy wagon that is just waiting for “she who should be inside”

  22. michael reynolds says:

    @Donna L.:

    Well, we aren’t the most organized political party. Certainly nothing like the unity the GOP has achieved in bringing together racists, woman-haters, gay-bashers, nativists and the entire array of Republican thinkers from the cretins to the imbeciles, from the mentally unhinged, frothing-at-the-mouth haters to the. . . Okay, just more mentally unhinged frothing-at-the-mouth haters.

    Hate: it unifies! Hate: it’s what’s for breakfast!